Observers hope German trial of al Qaeda suspect will shed light on motives | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 20.03.2012
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Observers hope German trial of al Qaeda suspect will shed light on motives

An alleged Islamist militant is on trial in Koblenz in Germany, accused of being a member of al Qaeda and of raising funds for terrorist activities in Europe. If convicted, he faces 15 years in jail.

Ahmed Siddiqui is thought to have been one of about a dozen radical Muslims who left Germany in 2009 to pursue terrorist training in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The 37-year-old reportedly was also a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the German Federal Agency for Civic Education describes as a "crux for internal and external security risks in Central Asia." Operating from Afghanistan and Tajikistan, experts consider the movement as a significant counterweight to the autocratic Uzbek President Karimov.

Siddiqui allegedly received general military training at an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan camp in Pakistan before moving on in the summer of 2009 to an al Qaeda training area where he learnt how to use heavy weapons, including anti-tank weapons and mortars.

Prosecutors claim he helped to produce a German-language propaganda film.

Arrested by US troops and held in Bagram

Siddiqui was arrested by US troops in Afghanistan when he was trying to get back to Germany where he allegedly had been instructed to become part of a European network of al Qaeda that was supposed to secure financial support.

Michael Bauer

Michael Bauer points out that the trial provides an imporant example

The US authorities initially detained him at Bagram air base outside of Kabul before handing him over to Germany in April 2011.

Michael Bauer from the Center for Applied Policy Research in Munich hopes that the trial, which is expected to last several months, will shed more light on the suspect's motives, as well as on the structures and plans of radical organizations in Germany and Europe. "Most information has come from the interrogations of course but still one or two things might become clearer."

During the first interrogations in summer 2010, the information that Siddiqui reportedly provided prompted warnings of an al Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in Britain, France and Germany. Security was boosted and many public buildings, including the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin, were shut down. The information later proved to be false.

Bauer thinks that the authorities responded in the right manner though: "They had concrete information and there was a concrete threat, so the terror warnings were justified."

Police officers stand guard near the Reichstag building

Security was boosted after terror warnings were issued

Bauer says that this trial, which is not the first terrorism trial in Germany, can serve as an example. He points out that by comparison with the "extra-judicial procedures" employed in Guantanamo Bay, Siddiqui's arrest, interrogations and trial have been conducted in accordance with the rule of law. This shows that a state of law has the possibilities of defending itself against "particularly dangerous" people.

Author: Matthias von Hellfeld / act (AP, AFP)
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

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